One of the wonders of the world, winter tides that surge into shore generating waves almost five stories high, have made Oahu’s fabled North Shore a global mecca for surfers who migrate from all over the world to challenge the sea. Situated on that coast, with ocean views from every room, the locale’s principal resort, Turtle Bay, capitalizes on its unique location. Fashioning its health facilities to embrace the waterside sense of a place “where the ocean’s energy gently pushes you to a new place of vitality,” its Nalu (waves and ocean) Kinetic (energizing) Spa resides in a fitness wing of the destination resort where the sea views are gorgeous and the sound of crashing waves is constant.
The spa’s treatments reflect the seaside setting. The Nalu Therapy Massage is performed on a specially designed table which gently rocks and rotates, mimicking the buoyancy of the water. Open-air treatment rooms with tables positioned beside a one-way screen allow clients to look out to the soothing landscape while undergoing other therapies from the menu such as salt stone, deep tissue and upper body Swedish massages. As an ultra extravagance, single clients or couples can book massages in a wooden beachside cabana with one side open to the sea. Perched directly on the shore, its curtain-edged interior is visible only to distant surfers.
From the menu of body treatments including Ocean Scrub, Seaweed Body Wrap, Lilikoi Citrus Body Polish and Sun Undone, I selected the Undaria Body Wrap, featuring seaweed to relieve tension, reduce water retention and firm skin. Checking into Nalu Kinetic, I filled out a body treatment waiver including advisories to communicate with my therapist and to breathe deeply during my treatment to release tension and increase my well-being.
The locker I was assigned in the changing room was neatly stocked with a robe, towels and rubber flip-flops. The shower and changing areas are thoughtfully supplied with razors, mouthwash, combs and lotions, and its sauna is available to guests for the entirety of their treatment day. Other guests pay a $15 daily fee to use its facilities.
Escorting me to a hushed room with blinds partially open to glimpses of the beach vegetation, my therapist, Gail, showed me how to undress and prepare for Undaria by lying face down on a Mylar sheet covering the treatment table. To begin, she carefully rubbed my skin with a dry brush, moving from the back of my legs up to the base of my neck.
After that gentle exfoliation, she began the body polish, rubbed into my skin in a circular motion, again proceeding from toes to head. After helping me turn over, Gail repeated the procedure up the front of my body before covering me all over with a grainy white algae detoxification preparation and swaddling the Mylar sheet tightly around me. Finally, she covered me head to toe with hot towels. While I lay cocooned in the seaweed body mask undergoing detoxification, Gail conducted a mini facial, applying three creams, one at a time, to my face: first cleansing, then exfoliating and finally a light massaging with fresh strips of red algae.
Just as the enveloping algae paste was starting to verge on uncomfortable, Gail unwrapped me and topped off the treatment with the amazing Vichy shower. She positioned the five overhead nozzles over me neck to toe and turned on the shower full force to rinse my entire body with pulsating hot water while she used a separate hose to remove any lingering traces of the paste. Finally cleansed, I was left to lie for a few minutes with the warm water massaging me into a blissful state.
After drying off, I lay back down on fresh towels stretched on the table while Gail covered my body in a final soothing oil. I was handed a cup of water and led to luxuriate in the outdoor recovery room at the ocean’s edge, where comfortable chaises and upholstered chairs sat on the covered patio nestled within the resort’s vegetation. Normally post treatment I get up and leave, but this time I lingered, settling into the pillows, listening to the waves, sipping lemon water and watching surfers catching the swells.
Augmenting Nalu Kinetic, a full-service beauty salon offers hair dressing, manicures and pedicures, hair removal and makeup application. Because Turtle Bay hosts more than 300 weddings per year in its picturesque settings, the spa offers group and bridal party rates. Nalu Kinetic also sells marine-infused bodycare lines: OSEA skincare lotions are made from organic algae, and Naturopathica is the first eco-certified brand. At a special Body Bliss counter, guests can custom-mix bath oils and lotions, combining scents from bottles of oils — sweet orange, rose Maroc, frankincense, lavender vera — to concoct their own special blends.
On the floor above the spa, a fully equipped fitness area offers Precor treadmills, ellipticals, bicycles and rowing machines. On two sides, full-length windows allow expansive ocean views from every piece of apparatus. The resort schedules 25 to 30 exercise classes per week, and guests looking down from their balconies may see other guests performing yoga on the grassy seaside lawns below.
The spa/fitness activities represent only one aspect of Turtle Bay’s wellness philosophy, which urges guests to get up from lying beside the pool and, as destination developer Replay Resorts CEO Michael Coyne urges, “Take a chance, think outside the box.” So a full range of outdoor activities augments the fitness center.
The property includes tennis courts and two championship golf courses designed by George Fazio and Arnold Palmer, offering 36 scenic holes of golf. Several miles of trails wind through the 840-acre property for hiking, biking and pony treks. Segway tours roll through the ironwood trees and skirt the sandy beaches. There are bicycles and kayaks to rent and an outrigger canoe for exploring the coastline. Celebrated surfer Hans Hedemann rents surf and paddle boards for daily lesson sessions. And, of course, there is swimming in the bay and at the property’s other white-sand beaches strung along the five miles of shoreline.
I certainly earned the relaxation of my spa treatment. After learning to Segway through the woods and over the sand dunes, swimming halfway across the resort’s Kalima Bay, touring the iconic beaches where world-class surfers compete, and devouring a Kona lobster salad prepared from ingredients raised on Turtle Bay’s extensive system of local farms, my Undaria wrap was a well-deserved — and much-appreciated — reward.
Nalu Kinetic Spa
Turtle Bay Resort
57-091 Kamehameha Highway
Kahuku, Oahu, HI 96731
tel 808 293 6000
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I had just taken off my sandals, stepping onto the white-sand beach for a late-morning walk to a secluded spot I heard about from a front desk clerk, when I glanced down and saw the time on my phone. It had just turned 11 a.m., which meant it was only 7 am back home, the perfect time to call and say good morning to by husband before he left for work. Not quite ready to head back to my room, I decided I’d test the WiFi signal and made the call as I continued walking toward the shoreline.
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